In Minnesota, nearly 70% of gun deaths are suicide by gun. Nationally, nearly 60% of gun deaths are suicide by gun.
SUICIDE AND JUDGEMENT: Historically, a portion of the Church has treated those who threaten or choose to die by suicide as being eternally threatened or eternally separated from God. Yet, although there are seven examples of suicide in scripture, there is no indication that they are separated from God. See: Judges 9:52-54 (Abimelech), I Kings 16:18 (Zimri), 2 Samuel 17:23 (Ahithophel), I Chronicles 10:1-6 (Saul and his armor-bearer), Judges 16:28 (Samson), Matthew 27:3-5 (Judas). Certainly, there is a tone of grief and torment, and with Judas of remorse, but none of eternal damnation. Significantly, it is only in Matthew that Judas kills himself.
HOW CAN CHRISTIANS ADDRESS SUICIDE FROM A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE?: Regarding judgement, Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Judge not lest you be judged.” (Matthew 7:1). Continuing in Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain, “Do not judge and you will not be judged.” (Luke 6:37). Indeed, the Gospel of John injects a new standard for eternal life, not based simply on the righteousness or unrighteousness of our actions: “For God so loved the world, that whoever believes in God shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Faith is the standard for salvation, not the narrowness of our “perfect” actions. A seminary professor once told our class, “God is in the salvation business all by Himself. Get out of it.”
THE GIFT OF GRACE THROUGH FAITH: Paul writes in Romans 6:14, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the Law but under grace.” Furthermore, In Romans 5:1, Paul writes, “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Romans 8:1, Paul writes, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ.” In Romans 14:7, Paul writes, “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” Furthermore, “None of us lives to ourselves nor dies to ourselves. We are the Lord’s.” In Ephesians 2:5 we read, “By grace you have been saved.” In truth, our actions, our intellectual prowess, our feelings, are not the final arbiter of our lives and future. It is Christ. It is grace. It is faith.
THE GIFT OF COMFORT. To the survivors of those who choose to end their lives, Jesus’ words of comfort offer an embrace of comforting grace: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4), “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Luke 6:21). The prophet Isaiah speaks, “Comfort my people, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:1). Psalm 136:1-26 repeats 26 times, “For God’s steadfast love endures forever.” We may argue over contexts, but God’s comfort is a reality, given by grace, to the broken world. God is in charge. Paul writes in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, . . . nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.”
THE GIFT OF THE CHURCH: In Holy Baptism, the Affirmation of Baptism and Holy Communion, we are given: 1) COMMUNITY: We are part of the family of faith. We are not alone; 2) WORSHIP: We are given times to receive sacramental grace in the Lord’s Supper and the context of worship; 3) CONFESSION: We are given the gift of honesty, admitting wrongs, regrets and abuses against self and others; 4) FORGIVENESS: We are given the gift of a fresh start with new understandings and awareness; 5) REPENTANCE: We are given the gift of change, of living life more wholly; 6) MISSION: We are given a mission/purpose for living lives in witness of Jesus, service and commitment to peace and justice. In the words of Martin Luther, “the Church is an inn and the infimary for those who are sick and in need of being made well.”
THE GIFT OF LOVE: “Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (I Corinthians 13:7-8a). “Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
THE GIFT OF THE FUTURE: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . . God will wipe away every tear from their eyes . . . . Death will be no more . . . . Mourning and crying and pain will be no more. See, I am making all things new!” (Revelation 21:1, 4-5)
BLESSINGS AND PEACE!